With a little knowledge and understanding, you can select the right chocolate and store it properly.

Good quality eating chocolate is made up of cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and vanilla to enhance the flavor. An emulsifier may be added, as well as milk solids. The better the quality of chocolate, the higher the percentage of cocoa solids and cocoa butter to the other ingredients – check the labels. Lesser quality chocolate will substitute vegetable oils for the cocoa butter, and typically use less cocoa solids, more sugar. The vegetable oils will leave a greasy taste and feel in your mouth. Buy the best quality chocolate available. Read the label and check the ingredients so that you won’t be fooled.

Bitter or unsweetened chocolate is simply ground cocoa solids and cocoa butter with possibly an emulsifier. It provides intense chocolate flavor in recipes. Bittersweet and semi-sweet chocolate have more cocoa butter and sugar added. Semi-sweet chocolate has slightly more sugar added than bittersweet. These two can be interchanged in recipes. Milk chocolate has cocoa butter; sugar and milk solids added and may contain lecithin for smoothness. White chocolate contains no cocoa solids; it is a mixture of cocoa butter, sugar, milk solids and lecithin.

Store chocolate in a cool dry place, at 55 to 68°F, tightly wrapped. Milk and white chocolate products generally stay fresh well over a year when stored properly. Dark chocolate will keep 2-3 years!